Project Proposal: Digital Genre

            As Janet H. Murray explodes the notion of genre in the age of digital media production, the consideration of remediated entertainment forms being regarded as interrelated provokes a deep interest for us. As Murray says in the introduction of Inventing the Medium (2011), “All things made with electronic bits and computer code belong to a single new medium, the digital medium, with its own unique affordances” (Murray 2). Taking the digital medium into understanding as an “immature” (3) medium, imagining and planning out an exhibition which incorporates the task of tracing out a lineage of disparate mediums will be instrumental in laying the basis for describing how they unify in the digital. The previously separated mediums of film, photography, music (as expressed both in live performance or radio, which has the effect of being live), and literature all currently exist in contemporaneously in digital formats. To further explain and justify the proposed exhibition a series of questions concerning a brief schematic of the exhibition must be answered and the generative purpose behind the project must be described.

Insofar as the purpose of the project is concerned, the idea behind an installation which charts lineages of medium serve a bipartite didactic interest in its current formulation. In this first iteration the interest is toward 1) educating a populace in the subtle as well as revolutionary technological ways in which their entertainment has changed over time and; 2) charting shifts in cultural attitudes to our technology as the devices themselves and related mediums changed over time. But what would the project ultimately achieve regardless of the interests behind it? It is precisely the task of following the lineages of our entertainment mediums, both physical and cultural, that will provide a background to imaginations of future iteration and improvement on design and creative impetus. The hope of the project is then to inspire further advancement that is informed by not only the achievements of the past but also its failings, its occluded variables, and its overlooked solutions. We wish to turn to answering the questions who decided how our entertainment technology advanced? What does it mean now that all entertainment forms are genres of the digital medium? Where will go and what can we do with this information?

To touch upon possible construction and organization for the project, the breadth of a medium lineage is not equivalent for all forms. For photography and film, that lineage recalls only two centuries of devices and advancement with an argument to be made for much earlier forms picture entertainment from precolonial cultures. But as for music and literature, those lineages stretch beyond human recordings of history such that one exhibition could not hope to provide enough space. As this project is currently interested in describing the canon formation of the technologies that relate to its zones of study, staking a claim for a historical cutoff in the 18th or 19th Century for as far back as the exhibition will describe. Technologies taken as cultural objects however, an idea heavily supported in design and technical scholarship, lends itself to a certain presentation of the objects that the exhibition would hope to procure: the objects themselves can be presented in contextually appropriate positions throughout the exhibition in as accurately a chronology as possible in separate paths of advancement which all unify in the digital center of the contemporary moment that the exhibition is interested in observing. By contextually appropriate we mean to say that objects that were available to the public will be made to be handled by the public in as safe a manner as possible whereas those objects which were not will remain in positions that while not available to be held can still be touched and experienced. Finally, a section devoted to digital imaginations for the future will be set aside. In this place, the exhibition hopes to present answers to the preceding questions as well as leave space for the imaginations of the participating populace who walk through the exhibition space.